10 Best Savannah Seafood Restaurants: Fresh From the Docks, Straight to Your Plate
By Amy Pine
Nestled just a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean and dissected by numerous rivers and waterways, Savannah is a seafood lover's paradise, with fresh, delicious fish and shellfish available all over the city.
For a traditional seafood experience, head out to Tybee Island and grab a seat at the Crab Shack, a longtime favorite that specializes in peel-and-eat shrimp, crabs and oysters. Other Tybee Island favorites include A-J’s Dockside, Gerald’s Pig and Shrimp, StingRays Restaurant and CoCo’s Sunset Café.
Those who don’t feel like venturing out of Savannah’s Historic District will find a nice selection of eateries with extensive seafood menus within easy walking distance. The Olde Pink House, one of the city’s finest dining establishments, has dozens of seafood options, among them seafood platters, shrimp and grits, blackened oysters and crispy fried lobster tails. Several River Street eateries also serve up great seafood, including Barracuda Bob’s Bar and Grill, the River House, Bernie’s Oyster House, the Shrimp Factory and Tubby’s Tankhouse.
Some of the city’s best seafood restaurants are located away from the hustle and bustle of Tybee and Downtown Savannah. Favorites include popular Sandfly restaurant Driftaway Café and Pearl’s Saltwater Grille, a Savannah gem that overlooks the Herb River. Other local favorites include Russo’s Seafood Restaurant in Midtown and Tortugas Island Grill in Thunderbolt.
10 River House Seafood
This River Street staple, which is housed in a restored 18th-century cotton warehouse, has been a favorite among locals and visitors for 30 years. The menu is chock-full of seafood, from lobster bisque and peel-and-eat shrimp to crab cakes and blackened mahi mahi. Entrees include fish favorites such as baked tilapia, crispy scored flounder and grouper Florentine, as well as shellfish staples including fried shrimp, crab cakes, Dungeness crab legs and a low country boil. Meat eaters can choose from a good selection of steaks, chicken dishes and more. Save room for the River House's signature homemade peach cobbler and banana pudding. (912-234-1900, 800-317-1912)
9 A-J's Dockside Restaurant
This popular Tybee seafood restaurant overlooking the island's Back River is a favorite among locals, who sometimes come by boat, dock and dine. A-J's offers both indoor and outdoor seating and features a good selection of seafood dishes, including deviled crabs, mahi-mahi and snow crabs. There are plenty of choices for those who don't eat seafood, among them wings, burgers and steak. The restaurant holds the unique distinction of being world headquarters for Tybee Island's Bomb Squad, a group that searches for the rumored nuclear weapon that was lost a few miles off the Tybee coast in 1958. Bomb-searching enthusiasts can pick up bomb squad shirts, hats, koozies and more during their visit to the restaurant. (912-786-9533)
8 Tortugas Island Grille
Just like the palm tree and lounging turtle in its logo suggest, Tortugas Island Grille, located on the Intracoastal Waterway in the small town of Thunderbolt, feels like a tropical oasis. The indoor/outdoor eatery features Caribbean- and Southern-influenced cuisine. Among the standout seafood dishes on the dinner menu are the Maryland crab cakes, shrimp and grits, jerked sauteed shrimp and fresh catch of the day. The expansive lunch menu includes several salads, along with tasty sandwiches, fried shrimp and tantalizing appetizers. Tortugas also serves breakfast on Saturdays and a Sunday brunch that boasts traditional favorites like huevos rancheros and house specialties such as shrimp cake benedict. (912-201-3630)
7 Gerald's Pig and Shrimp
This roadside eatery near the entrance to Tybee Beach offers a mouthwatering selection of pork, ribs, beef brisket and more. But the casual restaurant's stand-out dish is fried shrimp. The freshly caught shrimp are piping hot, perfectly crispy and, according to many locals, the best in town. Gerald's Pig and Shrimp also serves oysters and a low country boil--a one-pot dish featuring shrimp, sausage, potatoes and corn on the cob. Traditional side items, including baked beans, fried okra, green beans and French fries, round out the menu, along with tasty appetizers such as hush puppies, potato crab balls and wings. Be sure to wash down your meal with a glass of Gerald's tart and refreshing fresh-squeezed limeade. (912-786-4227)
6 Russo's Seafood Restaurant
Russo's Seafood has been Savannah's premier seafood market since 1946. So when the market expanded and opened a restaurant a few years ago, locals flocked to the small eatery, which is located adjacent to the fish market, to sample the freshest seafood in town. They were not disappointed. Russo's, which is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, features several sandwiches, among them shrimp salad and oyster po' boys, as well as plates of steamed and fried shrimp, crab cakes, shrimp and fish tacos, and deviled crabs. Soups and salads are also available, along with traditional sides including hush puppies, coleslaw, French fries and potato salad. ((912) 341-8848)
5 Barracuda Bob's Bar & Grill
This two-story eatery, which enjoys a prime spot on Savannah's historic River Street, has received rave reviews from diners for its top-notch service, outstanding cuisine and lovely ambiance. Favorite seafood dishes include shrimp and grits, tuna tacos, pan seared scallops, and crab and corn chowder. Non-seafood eaters will enjoy selections such as the pimento cheese dip, fried green tomato BLT, pulled pork sandwich and Cuban sandwich. Adventurous eaters can choose from several dishes made with alligator, including gator gumbo and a gator tail appetizer. Barracuda Bob's has a nice selection of beer, including several local brews, as well as a fully stocked bar. (912-777-4381)
4 Olde Pink House
Legend has it that several ghosts haunt the 18th-century Georgian mansion that is home to the Olde Pink House. While it may be tempting to be on the lookout for those rumored spirits, diners will undoubtedly be distracted by the excellent food and cozy ambience that have made this one of the city's most popular restaurants. The Southern-influenced cuisine is always flavorful and features a large selection of fish, beef, pork and chicken dishes. Among the standout seafood entrees is the crispy scored flounder with apricot shallot sauce, which has been a mainstay on the menu for years. The "BLT" salad, a twist on the traditional BLT sandwich that incorporates fried green tomatoes, crispy bacon and black pepper thyme buttermilk dressing, was featured on the Food Network Show "The Best Thing I Ever Ate." The restaurant's signature praline basket filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with berries is the perfect way to end the meal. (912-232-4286)
3 Pearl's Saltwater Grille
Tucked away from Savannah's commercial and historic districts, Pearl's Saltwater Grill is a top-notch seafood restaurant with great food, a lovely view of the Herb River and good service. One of the best parts of a Pearl's meal is in the very beginning, when each table receives a basket of piping hot hushpuppies with honey butter. The crisp, slightly sweet fried balls of dough are addictive. Those wanting to throw caution to the wind and keep going with the fried theme will enjoy the restaurant's selection of fried seafood, which includes shrimp, flounder, catfish, oysters, scallops and soft shell crabs. The more health conscious crowd will appreciate Pearl's selection of steamed dishes, among them shrimp and Alaskan crab legs. The restaurant also features a variety of fishes that can be customized with one of several sauces, as well as a number of classic dishes that the restaurant has been serving for years, including a standout crab stuffed flounder. (912-352-8221)
2 Driftaway Cafe
Located in the trendy Sandfly neighborhood near Isle of Hope, Driftaway Cafe serves up seafood in a cozy atmosphere that features a surprisingly lush landscape with a quaint stream. The restaurant boasts a great selection of appetizers, including a fantastic tuna tartare, an ahi seared tataki-style tuna with black and white sesame seeds, diced cucumbers, scallions and a cucumber wasabi cream sauce. The sandwich menu has a variety of choices, including spicy tuna tacos, a Gullah oyster sandwich and a fried, grilled or blackened grouper sandwich. Driftaway also offers a number of classic coastal dishes, including pistachio encrusted salmon, pan roasted salmon and a seafood combo platter with flash fried butterflied shrimp and Gullah fried oysters. There are plenty of sandwiches, salads and entrees for meat eaters, making Driftaway the perfect choice for groups with differing tastes. (9123030999)
1 Crab Shack
This Tybee seafood restaurant is one of the best places in town to enjoy mouthwatering platters of seafood while taking in scenic views of the area's waterways. A casual restaurant with ample indoor and outdoor seating, the Crab Shack is a seafood lover's paradise, offering heaping platters of boiled shrimp, buckets of oysters and every type of crab imaginable. One of the most popular menu items is the low country boil, a feast featuring shrimp, corn, sausage and potatoes. Those who dare go to the Crab Shack and forgo seafood will be treated to authentic Southern barbeque, including pork and chicken. The restaurant, which has been drawing a huge crowd of both locals and visitors for more than two decades, lives by its motto "where the elite eat in their bare feet" and delivers on its promise of a good time, great service and outstanding food. (912-786-9857)
About Amy Pine
Amy's thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of Savannah with the world. A Savannah native, Amy has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, and her work has appeared in numerous local, regional and national publications. Prior to launching a freelance career, she was executive editor at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she served as editor of the college’s alumni magazine. Amy received a B.A. in English and communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She's currently putting the finishing touches on her young adult novel, The Girl in a Picture Frame.
Read more about Amy Pine here.